Clarence was widowed at 32 after his college sweetheart died of cancer. Five years on, he is learning how to be a husband once again.
“The toughest part after my first wife, Lydia*, passed on was just settling into life again. My daughter Kathy* was only three then, and I had no job – I’d stopped work to look after Lydia during her 16-month battle with cancer.
Right after Lydia left this world, I went out and bought a guitar. Then a new computer. For several nights after, I gamed till the wee hours of the morning while Kathy slept. I suppose these shiny toys distracted me from my loss.
Being single again was terrifying; I saw myself as an ‘expired good’. I had a kid and couldn’t go out on dates as I had to stay home in the evenings. The thought of starting a relationship all over again was daunting.
And yet, it somehow happened. My second wife, Pamela*, was no stranger to me; she was Lydia’s close friend and after Lydia’s death, she spent time with Kathy. Once, when Kathy had to participate in a school play, I asked Pamela to help with her makeup. It was nice to see her so attentive, like a mother figure.
Finding love again
Pamela and I got together a year after Lydia’s death. It didn’t begin well though. We had hung out a couple of times; I stated that I wanted to know her better; she accused me of getting over Lydia too quickly; I felt judged and left it at that. But some months later, she apologised. She’d thought it over and decided to give it a shot. Six months later, we were an item.
Was I concerned about whether it was ‘too soon’? I guess the thing about cancer is that it isn’t a sudden death. For over a year, Lydia and I had mentally prepared ourselves. I had ample time to contemplate life as a widower, and we had talked about whether it would be okay for me to remarry. It took a while for Lydia to give her blessings and when she finally did, it seemed to me like she had given her husband away.
For me, remarrying was a practical consideration. Being a single dad was hard; my family lived abroad and my daughter had just turned four then. I knew I couldn’t parent her alone.